Dark Draft, Core-Only, Tier Charts

Foreword

Now that I have had a significant amount of time to play a bunch of core-only dark drafts, I have updated my ratings. If you want even more dark draft content, check out my main dark draft article.

Tier Charts Explanation

Instead of my overall ranking scheme ranging from Always First Picakable…Situationally Desirable…Rarely Playable, I have broken down the cards by tier based on overall power level and how highly I value them. In addition, due to the dramatically shifting value of cards throughout a dark draft, I have decided to create 9 tier charts:

  1. Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart
  2. Evil Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  3. Good Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  4. Sage Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3
  5. Wild Committed Charts
    1. Pick 1
    2. Pick 2/3

Every draft begins with the Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart. Once you have decided to commit to an alignment, you then switch to that alignment’s charts and ignore the other charts.

Cards within a tier (S-Tier, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, Tier 5, Tier 6, Tier 7) are roughly equivalent in power. Inner-tier differences are minor and vary based on other cards in the pack and my mood that draft.

Finally, some tiers have multiple columns. For instance, Tier 1 has a neutral column and a ‘-‘ column. Cards in the ‘-‘ column are a bit weaker than cards in the neutral column. Tier 3 has a ‘+’ column, neutral column, and ‘-‘ column. Cards in the ‘+’ column are a bit stronger than the neutral column, and cards in the ‘-‘ column are a bit weaker.

Brief Reasoning Behind My Changes

Below I touch on why some of my card ratings are different here than in my main article.

Burn/Health Gain

In Core only, there is a higher concentration of burn cards than in any other format. Due to this, it is much easier to assemble a large amount of burn. Against unprepared opponents, this can be very strong; however, burn can also be fairly easy to counter with cards like Inner Peace. Therefore, the worthwhile health gain cards are fairly high on my list.

0-Cost Champions (Blitzers)

0-cost champions like Dark Knight, Guilt Demon, and Thrasher Demon are even harder to effectively answer in core-only than they are in other formats. This makes them some of the best cards to create early pressure without committing your gold. Recycle 0-cost cards work in a similar way: they let you develop a threat while neither committing your gold nor losing a card in hand. Therefore, all of these cards are tier 1 cards.

In other words, these are frequently the best cards to play to get ahead, since they allow you to hold your gold and use it to stay ahead. They take the place of 1-cost establishing champions allowing you to more aggressively use powerful gold-punishers.

Evil

Due to the greater value I place on Evil’s 0-cost blitzers, I am more likely to be able to support Evil Loyalty 2 cards now. This makes going Evil less risky than it was for me in the past. In addition, Evil has the absolute best rewards for committing to it…hmmm, thematically interesting.

Pack 1 Pick 1/Uncommitted Chart

Since this is the Pack 1 Pick 1 chart, I attempted to organize all of the cards in a tier from my first pick in that tier to my last pick. That being said, the cards are so similar in strength that choosing between them is largely a matter of personal preference. Further, as you get deeper into a draft, these intra-tier rankings break down quite quickly based on what you have already drafted and what you still need.

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Alignment Committed Charts

Once I commit to an alignment, my valuation of certain cards change. Primarily, powerful in-alignment Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards dramatically increase in value, while off-alignment Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards drop in value. In addition, certain off-alignment cards change value because they either work well with that alignment (Ancient Chant in Evil) or work poorly with that alignment (Inner Peace in Pick 2/3 Wild).

Differences Between Pick 1 and Pick 2/3 Charts

I love to counter draft. This can either involve drafting cards to counter what your opponent is doing (taking Flash Fire to stop a Courageous Soul->Secret Legion strategy), or it can involve drafting cards your opponent would like to draft. For these tier charts, I am focusing on the latter.

The primary reason there is a difference between my Pick 1 and Pick 2/3 charts is I firmly believe in taking the best overall card in a pack as opposed to the best card for my deck, in pick 1 (most of the time). For example, say we are drafting an Evil-Alignment deck and get the pack above. Angel of Death is the best card for my deck because it is a board clear that leaves behind a 6/5 airborne body. Generically however, Palace Guard is the best card with Divine Judgement being strong as well. (Burrowing Wurm and Dark Leader are bad.)

If I take Angel of Death, my opponent easily takes Palace Guard and Divine Judgement. I get 1 amazing card for my deck and my opponent gets 2 great cards for theirs. Instead, I would usually take the Palace Guard here. This leaves my opponent with a snap pick Divine Judgement, and unless they are also going Evil (which is unlikely if I am going Evil), they have a choice between 3 bad cards for their deck. In this scenario, I get 1 very strong card, and my opponent gets 1 strong card and 1 weak card. I much prefer this second outcome.

In Pick 2/3 of a pack, since my opponent can’t get any of the cards I don’t take, I can freely take the strongest cards for my deck.

Evil Committed Charts

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, Ancient Chant, Winter Fairy, and Djinn of the Sands move up a tier in Evil. This is due to the fact that Evil has no “draw 2 and” cards in Core only, and their draw overall is weak.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Evil

I commit to Evil when I draft a Medusa, Murderous Necromancer, or Necromancer Lord, usually in pick 2/3 of a pack, preferably by pack 4ish. These are 3 of the most powerful cards in core set only.

If I see that my opponent passes me one of these cards early in a draft, that is a pretty large signal that they are not going Evil, and I am immediately rewarded for going Evil. Even if my opponent tries to deny me Evil cards for the rest of the draft, I have plenty of time to gain enough Evil cards to be able to hit my loyalty effect(s) reliably. In addition, if my opponent doesn’t also try to draft Evil, cards like Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, Murderous Necromancer, Dark Assassin, and Plentiful Dead are nearly worthless to them so they are more likely to be passed to me.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Good Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, card draw effects are slightly reduced in tier (for example Ancient Chant and Winter Fairy) due to incredibly powerful Good cards with draw effects like Noble Unicorn and White Knight.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Good

I don’t commit to Good often in draft. This is partially because, unlike Evil, there are no Good Loyalty 2/Ally cards that are strong enough to get me to commit to Good by themselves. Instead, to commit to Good I must have already incidentally drafted 2+ overall decent Good cards (Noble Unicorn, White Knight, Angel of Light), and then get passed a strong commitment reward card like Angel of Mercy or High King for a pick 2/3.

Good is a risky alignment to draft, particularly in Core Only. This is because so many of their best cards (Noble Unicorn, White Knight, and Angel of Light) are strong enough in a non-Good deck that your opponent could counter draft them or just incidentally take them without much downside.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Sage Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, generic draw 2 cards are slightly decreased in value since Sage has great drawing cards. Board clears are slightly increased in Pick 1 Sage because counter-drafting board clears helps to protect your big untargetable champions, namely Steel Golem. There are also a few other small differences between charts. For example, Ancient Chant is higher in Pick 1 chart because Psionic Assault is strong in a Sage deck, and Ancient Chant almost completely negates Psionic Assault. Avenging Angel is also higher than usual because with the forced discard and control in Sage, Avenging Angel is frequently harder for your opponent to effectively remove while staying competitive in other aspects of the game.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Sage

I have not been committing to Sage often in Core only. The main reason for this is, while Sage has all 4 of the S-Tier cards Amnesia, Sea Titan, Thought Plucker, and Muse in addition to Ogre Mercenary, Erase, etc., the Sage commitment cards aren’t as overwhelmingly powerful as other alignments. Committing to Sage also doesn’t dramatically increase the draftable card pool for you, unlike Evil and Good.

Generally, I commit to Sage when I’m midway or further through the draft, I haven’t committed to a different alignment, I have already drafted a decent number of generic Sage cards, and I come across cards like Steel Golem, Psionic Assault, Juggernaut, Time Walker, Ice Drake, or Warrior Golem. However, since only Time Walker among these is terrible without Loyalty or a plethora of ally triggers, I occasionally shift my alignment commitment later in the draft if I come across powerful non-Sage alignment cards that I can support. For instance, if it is pack 8 and I come across Medusa while I have 8ish other incidental Evil cards, there is a decent chance I take Medusa and focus on supporting Evil going forward.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Wild Committed Chart

In addition to the usual adjustments for Loyalty 2 and Ally effect cards, Wild’s card evaluations are heavily based around their goal of burning out your opponent, particularly in Core-Only. Strafing Dragon and Hunting Raptors are rewards for going Wild, and they help you reach a critical mass of burn at the same time. The more burn you have, the stronger it becomes (to an extent) since you can kill your opponent from  a higher health total without having to get as much attack damage through.

Due to this burn-slanted evaluation, health gain is a high-priority counter-draft in pick 1, but it drops off significantly in pick 2/3. Not only do you not need to counter-draft health gain pick 2/3, but if you draft most of the burn and deny it to your opponent, health gain is significantly less valuable. I also value board clears a bit less in Wild because a significant amount of Wild’s damage doesn’t rely on maintaining champions in play.

If you notice any other cards that changed tiers that you don’t understand/agree with, feel free to ask me about it in the comments below, and I will go into more detail about those cards.

When/Why I Commit To Wild

I practically never go Wild in Core-Only. I feel like Wild can be incredibly devastating against opponents that don’t prepare for the burn kill, but I think countering the burn kill isn’t that hard to do. Drafting Inner Peace can make a burn out victory nearly impossible, and a well-timed Drain Essence can give a player enough time to out-race burn.

That being said, Raging T-Rex is absolutely incredible. If I get passed T-Rex when I haven’t already committed to a faction, I get very tempted.

Pick 1

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Pick 2/3

Searchable Spreadsheet

(Click picture for full size)

Conclusion

I still need to create charts for Good, Sage, and Wild, but feel free to ask for clarification/ask questions on anything I have included so far in the comments below. Always happy to answer Epic questions.

6 thoughts on “Dark Draft, Core-Only, Tier Charts”

  1. I’ve found this extremely useful, thank you. I’m sure this, but more importantly, your pair of youtube videos from your streams, have given me a huge leg up in dark draft. That said, I’m currently matched w/both Rob & Darwin (hazards of starting games when WWG are getting into work…) so we’ll see how that goes!

    1. Glad it’s been helpful. If I remember correctly, Rob has stated that he really likes Wild on a few streams, Inner Peace could be pretty nice as a counter to him in core-only. I have yet to play against him on the app though…and he might actually just like the big champions like T-Rex, Triceratops, and Kong which Inner Peace does not do a ton against.

  2. In response to the Wild Update, Brad made this comment elsewhere. I wanted to add my response here too.

    Brad: I am surprised by a couple of cards being ranked so low: Soul Hunter, Forked Lightning, and Deadly Raid. Soul Hunter can be a huge pain to deal with. Forked Lightning is almost always useful in getting rid of a champion or two and/or hitting the face, and Deadly Raid is one of those combo cards that can end games unexpectedly. Also Steel Golem and Frost Giant seem low.

    Tom’S Epic Gaming:
    TL;DR None of these cards reliably give me enough value which is why they aren’t rated higher.

    Soul Hunter is usually either a card that is very hard to deal with or very easy to deal with while granting no value to its controller. In Core-only Dark Draft, there are generally very few situations where a Soul Hunter can be discarded to max handsize so it usually needs to played on turn for a gold (unless you can discard it to Thought Plucker/Psionic Assault). This requires a major investment that could be spent on something else/better. If you use it when your opponent’s gold is down, you miss out on the opportunity to play an aggressive on-turn gold punisher (strong blitz champions primarily). If you play it when your opponent’s gold is up, any bounce or banish effect is disastrous, and your opponent will generally have 2 golds (your turn and their turn) to deal with it efficiently. I really dislike cards that give me no guaranteed value. Generally, I’d rather pass my turn without playing a card if my opponent’s gold is up rather than playing Soul Hunter. So in an environment where I am unlikely to get Soul Hunter into play for free, I don’t want to take the risk that I spend a card and a gold and get nothing.

    Going off that idea of wanting to maximize my opportunities to gain value, I’m not a huge fan of Forked Lightning. In my experience, it very rarely breaks 2 worthwhile champions when played, unless it is breaking 2 0-cost champions. If it breaks 2 0’s, you just spend a gold to deal with 0’s which can be dangerous and put you behind in gold tempo. I’m also not a huge fan of using a gold and a card just to break a small champion and deal 5 damage to face. I’d rather have Chomp! to be more likely to remove a meaningful threat for instance. In a deck that wants to burn down your opponent, Forked Lightning becomes more valuable, but Evil decks in particular are more about slowly out-valuing and grinding out your opponent through chip damage and explosive gold-punishers. (It’ll be higher in my Wild charts.)

    I don’t like Deadly Raid. In my experience, it has lost significantly more games than it has won. I and multiple opponents have been tempted into using it while our opponent’s gold is up because, “hey, if they don’t have the right answer, we just win.” More times than not, in my experience, the opponent has at least a good enough answer to stay alive and punish the opponent for spending their gold first to do maybe 2 damage. It could theoretically win games more reliably if used when your opponent’s gold is down on your turn, but Deadly Raid is only useful when you have some amount of champions that can attack in play. In that situation, if your opponent spends their gold first on your turn, they are probably removing some/all of those champions that could work with Deadly Raid. In that situation, I would much rather have a blitz champion that I could then play to an empty board that, even if it doesn’t kill my opponent, leaves another threat in play that my opponent has to deal with.

    I do like Steel Golem, and it is near the top of neutral tier 3 for pack 1 pick 1 chart, but I think there are much better cards you can draft later into a draft that potentially fit your deck better, when not going Sage. This is also part of the reason why it is a tier 3 – card in pick 1 Evil and a tier 4 card in pick 2/3 Evil. A 13/13 untargetable champion is always reasonable, but if I can’t give it blitz reliably, I’d probably prefer another draw 2 or better.

    My reasoning for Frost Giant is a bit similar to my reasoning for Deadly Raid. A significant amount of the time, the expend all champions effect on a slow champion, even with blitz, is too all in for my taste. I value it as high as I do because an 8/12 blitzer is reasonable, especially since it survives all but Chomp! for damage based removal. However, it has no other form of evasion so any ambushed in 0-cost champion can chump block it. Further 8 offense is significantly lower than 14 and 12 defense doesn’t survive as much as 14 does. Further, in addition to no evasion like airborne or breakthrough, it doesn’t have any additional effects like righteous, or you can’t be attacked while it is expended. Overall, I want a card that can generate more value than a card that can potentially win a game I’m behind in. I’d rather draft cards that are better at getting me ahead or keeping me ahead overall.

  3. Thank you for this! This opened my eyes to some of the problems I was creating for myself and I finally won my first dark draft game after reading these articles and checking out your stream. Good stuff, keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *